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Pursuit of Happiness: Review and Recommendation to English teachers!

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Rosie, Online English Teacher at Acadsoc.

Rosie, Online English Teacher at Acadsoc.

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Happiness. A nine-letter word that means so many things to so many people. Some believe if it to be found through love. Some believe it’s the access to opportunities and experiences that money gives you. Some deem it to be a feeling of being content with yourself and the world around you. Whatever happiness means to you, you have surely experienced challenges in your journey of achieving it. It is without a doubt, undeniable that any path you choose to take in life will surely bring you challenges and disappointments – and it is how you deal with these disappointments that determines how long it takes you to achieve that goal.

Many of us find ourselves in positions of life that are unfavourable and we often have this urge to give up, settling for what the world has given us. This shouldn’t be how we approach life and the movie in question teaches us that – no matter where life takes you, never settle for less than what you have imagined for yourself, neither age nor duration should make you give up.

The Pursuit of Happiness is a powerful movie that highlights the struggle of balancing responsibility with dreams and aspiration.

Characters

This biography is based on a true story about a man named Christopher Gardner. Gardner has invested heavily in a device known as a “bone density scanner”. He feels like he has it made selling these devices. However, they do not sell well as they are marginally better than x-ray at a much higher price. As Gardner works to make ends meet, his wife leaves him and he loses his apartment. Forced to live out in the streets with his son, Gardner continues to sell bone density scanners while concurrently taking on an unpaid internship as a stockbroker, with slim chances for advancement to a paid position. Before he can receive pay, he needs to outshine the competition through 6 months of training and to sell his devices to stay afloat.[1]

The movie stars father and son, Will Smith and Jaden Smith. Their relationship off-screen is evident in the movie. Their battles are what make them stronger, and needless to say, they feed off of each other’s energy. The characters in this movie are as follows:

will smithChristopher Gardener (Will Smith)

He is the main character and the story takes a look at his deepest fears, joys, and desperation. His trials and tribulations are some that we can all relate to. He is scared but has to be bold. He is old but has to fight like a young lion. He keeps searching, knowing that all we ever need sometimes, is just one moment.

Jaden SmithYoung Christopher (Jaden Smith)

Very inquisitive, he views the world with complete innocence – wanting nothing more than to see his father happy. He asks the questions his father should have had answers to when he was younger. Chris Gardener sees himself in each of the sad moments, and will never let that be the norm for his son.

Thandie NewtonLinda (Thandie Newton)

Chris Gardener’s wife and later ex-wife, has endured most of the pain and struggles of investing life savings into a business that never took off. He impatience is valid, but we always wonder how much more she could have handled had she tried just a little bit harder.

Brian HoweJay Twistle (Brian Howe)

Chris Gardener’s one moment. Jay has so much influence and he definitely looks at life through a different lens and makes light of the struggles Chris endures, just to show him (Chris) how powerful he really is.

These are by far the most important characters and each of them shows us different versions of ourselves. The dreamer, the innocent child, the impatient lover, and the one who succeeds and gives others an opportunity.

Remarkable Scenes and Quotes

Seeing his son depressed after demotivating him, Chris Gardener seeks to build character within his son.

Chris Gardner: Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me. All right?

Christopher: All right

Chris Gardner: You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.

This scene is powerful because it is a visual representation of our insecurities. The people we depend on for support, usually our families, can sometimes shoot our dreams down with no regret, but we must learn to rise above that no matter what.

 

Young Christopher is so smart and this shows in so many parts of the movie, here is one example:

Christopher: Hey dad, you wanna hear something funny? There was a man who was drowning, and a boat came, and the man on the boat said, “Do you need help?” and the man said, “God will save me”. Then another boat came and he tried to help him, but he said, “God will save me”, then he drowned and went to Heaven. Then the man told God, “God, why didn’t you save me?” and God said, “I sent you two boats, you dummy!”

This scene is so significant because it shows us that we are all connected in some way. God never places you in a position in which he cannot take you out of. This is evident in the words spoken by Young Christopher – God will always send help, just know that it comes from him.

You may also feel interested in reading novels I recommended before: Pride and Prejudice and How to Fall In Love.

Billionaire John Paul DeJoria talked to Gillian Zoe Segal as part of her new book Getting There: A Book of Mentors. Some of his best advice is below.

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do.

Most people don’t want to work more than they have to. They do the minimum they are paid to do. That’s not the way to get ahead. Always do the best you can, not the least you can get away with. When you do your job, even if it is just cleaning an office, do it as if somebody you want to impress is watching your every step.

Success unshared is a failure.

If you’ve “made it” and don’t help others out along the way — if you don’t do something to make the planet a better place — you’re not successful at all; you are a failure. But remember that you can’t help everybody out. You have to focus and contribute in ways that you think are most beneficial.

My mom instilled this philosophy in me. She always encouraged my brother and me to do good. She had us give to the Salvation Army when we had no more than a dime and taught us that no matter how much someone has or doesn’t have there is always somebody who is worse off.

You don’t have to be good at everything to be successful.

Do what you do best and try to find others who can fill in by doing the things you are not good at. For instance, I am terrible at details — accounting especially, so I hire accountants to help me. This frees me up to focus on the things I do excel at and I can run a more efficient operation.[2]

 

Recommendation

This movie illustrates the tears of a man. The tears of sadness, the tears of fear, the tears of belief, and the tears of happiness. His journey teaches us that we can never lose hope. The earlier we learn this lesson, the better – schools all over the world should adopt this story, even online platforms such as Acadsoc can use this on their platforms to teach valuable life lessons.

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454921/

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/the-difference-between-successful-and-unsuccessful-people-2015-4

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